The crisis facing the health visiting profession in England will receive much-needed scrutiny by MPs later today (Wednesday 23 October) when there is a Westminster Hall debate.

Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), said this crisis had been brewing since the Health Visitor Implementation Plan came to an end in 2015.

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, called on the health minister replying to the debate to give detailed answers as to how the government is going to address the crisis which has seen a 31 per cent drop in health visitor numbers in England since 2015.

There were 7,026 health visitors in England in June this year compared with a peak of 10,309 in October 2015.

The debate comes as more than 70 Lincolnshire health visitors are being balloted for strike action over the county council’s insistence on having different contracts for grade 9 and grade 10 health visitors. The ballot closes on Friday (25 October).

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “We welcome this much-needed debate today by MPs on the serious crisis facing the health visiting profession in England.

“The value of a Westminster Hall debate is that a member of the ministerial health and social care team has to reply to the legitimate concerns raised by MPs – and we would urge the designated minister to outline a blueprint for action as to how the government is going to tackle the steep 31 per cent decline in health visitor numbers since 2015. 

“As demonstrated by the current Lincolnshire dispute, health visitors are not being valued by their county council bosses – this dismissive attitude needs to be immediately reversed.”

Unite lead professional officer for health visiting Obi Amadi said: “Since the public health agenda was transferred to local government in recent years, our members have been faced with cutbacks in jobs and dwindling resources due to the harsh funding regime that local authorities have faced since the Tories took power in 2010.

“Health visitors are in the front line of care and advice for families with young children – their expertise can prevent problems developing down the line and, in the long run, this is very cost-effective. Prevention is better than cure.

“Today’s debate is another opportunity to hammer home the message of the importance of health visitors – and, hopefully, beginning the journey to a renaissance in the profession.”     

The debate is due to start at 16.30.


Notes to editors:

  • Unite said that the Lincolnshire dispute had now escalated from the first bout of strike action - 32 days since July with the loss of around 450 shifts  which centred on health visitors having lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS - to the council’s insistence on different contracts for grade 9 and grade 10 health visitors.
  • Unite argues that as all health visitors have the same community nurse qualifications they should be paid the same.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.